Photo: Wikimedia/Presidenza della Repubblica and Wikimedia/ESMT
Italian stocks are rallying over 1% today, but the upcoming election in Italy (Feb 24-25) is getting lots of talk.In a note, Nomura’s geopolitical guru Alistair Newton explains the two facts about the polls that have people so worried.
Looking at a range of polls: Bene Commune was standing between 34% and 37% a week ago and is now 33-36%: Mr Berlusconi’s Il Popolo della Libertà was 28-29% and is now 28-32%; and Con Monti per l’Italia remains around 13-14%. Nevertheless, taking account of some possible bias in the polls:
— Bene Commune’s lead over Il Popolo della Libertà is narrow enough to be coming close to statistical margin of error; and,
–Perhaps more significantly, the combined Bene Commune/Con Monti per l’Italia vote currently looks to be right on the edge or possible just below what would be required to secure a majority under the different electoral system which prevails for Italy’s upper house.
So the lead of the top-tier liberal party is diminishing, and the size of the possible coalition between that party and the Monti coalition is getting too small, perhaps, to form a secure majority.
So why did Bene Commune start to drift lower in the polls?
It all start with, what else, a troubled bank:
However, any advantage which this offered Pier Luigi Bersani and his left of centre Bene Commune coalition at the outset may be being eroded by the Monte dei Paschi affair given the bank’s close association with the left in Italian politics. Furthermore, political opponents are claiming that Mario Monti’s unpopular property tax was brought in to pay for the Monte dei Paschi bail-out a few months ago: whatever the rights and wrongs of this claim, it does appear to be sticking in some quarters and may be damaging the prospects of Mr Monti’s Con Monti per l’Italia too.
So there you have it. A bank weakens, a bailout happens, a tax is levied, Berlusconi promises to reverse the tax. And voila: You have yourself a race.